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Employee rides down a baggage conveyor belt  (Source: AP)
NASA kept research data private to avoid a panic

If you're afraid of flying, this recent article compiled by the Associated Press probably won't relieve any of your pre-flight stress.

After conducting an $8.5 million safety project that revealed safety problems, NASA withheld the results to avoid upsetting air passengers.  The following safety issues take place more than the public is aware - bird strikes, near mid-air collisions and runway interference.  NASA interviewed more than 24,000 commercial and private pilots over a four-year span that started in 2000 - after finishing the interviews and stopping all research, NASA has spent the past year silent about data gathered.

NASA last week requested the main contractor delete all relevant information from its computers.  According to NASA, no collected data was severe enough to warrant contacting the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).  

Publishing the data could have damaged the "public's confidence in airlines and affect airline profits," said Thomas Luedtke, senior NASA official.

"If the airlines aren't safe I want to know about it," said Rep. Brad Miller, R-N.C., chairman of the House Science and Technology investigations and oversight subcommittee.  "I would rather not feel a false sense of security because they don't tell us," he added.

The House Science and Technology committee will now reportedly launch an investigation, also warning NASA and its contractor to not delete any documents.

Due to the AP article published in the morning, NASA Administrator Michael Griffin said the U.S. space agency will work to try and find a way some of the information can be published for everyone.  The information "should be widely available and subject to review and scrutiny," he said in an official NASA statement.

NASA Ames Research Center officials want to publish a public report before 2008.

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By sj420 on 10/23/2007 11:09:48 AM , Rating: 2
I didn't really know what to say about this, but considering the situation I would declare this more substantial information that the government isn't in the "business" to help us, but simply help themselves.

It doesn't matter really, if anyone "thought" anything was safe than you are living in a blind security. The person next door could kill you with a toothpick tomorrow, you never know, so who is to say that the window you are sitting next to won't pop out and suck you into the engine? No that won't happen, but a bird could hit the engine. They don't want you to know how many times that has happened (common, after all, we are flying in the sky the birds domain- why are the "animals rights activists" not up in arms about planes hitting birds, but about wind turbine power generators and birds). Usually, if it just hits one or two engines the jet is ok (as long as it is one engine on both sides) even though typically the engine catches on fire, and shreds to pieces in the inside, in most cases. They generally have four for a reason, in-case two fail. However, who knows what the pilots themselves do. With all those chicks and alcohol on board I wouldn't be worried about no plane I would consider myself the mile high master or something. They "don't get paid enough" to worry. It is funny what someone declares "negotiable" just for monetary reward.

In lame-mans wording, This just provides more reasons to NOT ride a plane, or a car, or anything. Whenever I think about a plane all I think about is that one accident where there was a plane on the tarmac taxing, and one got cleared to take off. Needless to say the plane that got cleared sheered the top half of the other jet. Welp, thats using your eyes, with fog and everything I understand, but still - people don't put enough thought into anything they do these days. You know, that uneventful morning can always end up in something if you make the right/and or wrong moves. Bunker up people, the years are closing in. Something is going to pound some justice into this naive, young, immature and arrogant government/branches of ours. Hopefully blatant public dis-regard like NASA's here (we all know they have ex-nazi's, or we should know) will be taken care of through civil justice. Yell obscenities as long as they can stand it.

RE: Hah
By Ringold on 10/23/2007 4:07:20 PM , Rating: 2
Usually, if it just hits one or two engines the jet is ok (as long as it is one engine on both sides) even though typically the engine catches on fire, and shreds to pieces in the inside, in most cases.

They've got four because, for that particular design, that was most efficient. Others simply have two. Some had three. Some six.

As far as a couple birds in the engine.. My understanding is that the big high bypass monsters on these boeings can eat the garden variety of smaller birds by the dozens without such catastrophic failure. The ICAO states that only 11% of the bird strikes causes damage.

I've personally been the instrument of choice for several birds suicide (some hear the plane approach and have a natural response of diving, which some times means diving in to your path). The Cessna's I were in suffered no damage at all; of course, a totally different type of plane, but still. Now, if any plane ran at maximum structural cruise through a massive flock of canadian geese, there could be problems but otherwise all that can be done is the omnipresent NOTAM warning of "birds on and about the vicinity" of the airport. Unless you want to eliminate all birds...

Needless to say the plane that got cleared sheered the top half of the other jet.

People thinking of this is probably why NASA didn't dump it on the media. The far more likely "near miss" or "incursion" is somewhat more benign.. I could lay out many examples, but I doubt they'd do any good with your stance already being pretty clear. They're all serious matters, of course, but a student pilot crossing an inactive runway after carefully looking in all directions when he was told 10 minutes earlier in the middle of a long set of instructions to hold short before crossing isn't a cosmic catastrophe -- but that doesn't get reflected in statistics.

They "don't get paid enough" to worry.

I hope your whole post was just satire and I missed the punch line. Commercial pilots are some of the most professional group of people I've met. They take their job and it's responsibilty seriously. Just drive to a local municipal airports flight school and see for yourself.

There are real problems with the airspace system, yes. However.. I've not seen any of them raised here thus far (in these posts, at least -- DT has discussed it previously). Perhaps NASA simply doesn't want to detract from the real problems with scare-mongering media headlines based on statistics. An incursion is an incursion.

RE: Hah
By TomZ on 10/23/2007 4:27:06 PM , Rating: 2
I don't disagree with the points you make, and maybe the report only presents uninteresting statistics about benign problems, but I don't see how NASA can justify not releasing it. Right now people can mainly just speculate about the contents, and quite possibly the speculation is worse than what the report actually says.

"We can't expect users to use common sense. That would eliminate the need for all sorts of legislation, committees, oversight and lawyers." -- Christopher Jennings

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